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National Wildlife Federation’s EcoLeaders provides valuable tools to help high school students advance their sustainability leadership and career development through sustainability content, project-based learning and leadership, sustainability career connections and an online support community.
Please note: Individuals under the age of 13 are not legally able to join or participate in the EcoLeaders Community. Individuals age 13-17 are allowed to participate with the permission of a legal parent or guardian and will be prompted for information during the registration process.
EcoLeaders is a great next step for high school juniors and seniors looking to build on their NWF Eco-Schools USA experience and develop their environmental leadership and career development skills.
EcoLeaders are encouraged to take five steps:
Project Planning Resources and Recognition Opportunities:
- Declare and share an EcoMission in their personal EcoLeader profile
- Design and implement a sustainability project using the project planning tool and resource library
- Support and network with other EcoLeaders through forums and project sharing
- Apply for and earn EcoLeader Certification for individual and group projects and involvement in NWF campaigns
- Research and develop a career plan in the NWF EcoLeader Career Center
- EcoTopic Pathways > Students can search across more than 10 EcoTopics (Energy, Building Design, Habitat, Waste Reduction, Water, for example) within the EcoLeaders community to find examples of active or completed projects in a region, state, or even on a campus, and learn about best practices in that topic area.
- Project Planning Resource Library > The EcoLeaders Project Planning Resource Library is organized by the project management and EcoLeader Certification components: Plan, Do, Communicate and Sustain. The library features resources to help students and other young leaders throughout the life cycle of their projects such as how to set goals; how to develop a project management plan; how to develop communications plans and how to ensure the longevity of a project. The library also included an in-depth, downloadable project planning template – a great resource to use in the classroom.
- EcoLeader Project Certification > EcoLeaders can earn EcoLeader Project Certification for the positive impact they are having on the environment through their school or community sustainability projects. The badge can recognize multiple individuals involved in the project or campaign and is a great credential to add to resumes and college applications.
The EcoLeader Forums encourage discussion and online networking among EcoLeaders. There are ten forums in the community on a variety of topics including Sustainability and the Environment Topics, and Leadership and Career Development, to name a few. NWF staff and EcoLeader members post questions, event announcements, and more.
Once students have learned about environmental topic areas, determined how they'd like to make an impact in their community and led a project, then they can apply for EcoLeader certifications to recognize their proven project-based leadership skills and use as a valuable credential on resumes and on college applications. There are three different levels of certification to choose from and build upon:
The EcoLeaders Career Center helps students develop the key competencies necessary to take steps towards achieving sustainability career goals. The Career Center’s most prominent resources include over a dozen career sector outlooks, an interactive career planning tool, and the annual EcoCareers Conference all of which are great tools for in-school exercises.
- EcoLeader Campus or Community Certification > The Certified EcoLeader Badge is given to honor an individual’s leadership skills demonstrated during the planning and implementation of school or community sustainability projects. The EcoLeader Certification is organized by four project management components 1) Plan, 2) Do, 3) Communicate, and 4) Sustain.
- The Certified EcoLeader Project >The Certified EcoLeader Project Badge honors EcoLeader Projects and their teams, showcasing the positive impact the projects or campaign are having on the environment. The badge can recognize multiple individuals involved in the project or campaign.
- EcoLeader Campaign Badges > Campaign Badges provide individuals with the opportunity to get directly involved with some of NWF’s most pressing campaigns and earn recognition for their efforts. Current campaign badge offerings include the Wildlife Crossing Badge, the Pollinator Badge, the Eco-Schools USA Badge and the RecycleMania Badge.
Career Sector Outlooks
Explore over a dozen sustainability career sectors to learn about career trends, job positions, average salaries, required education and credentials, and more. Each outlook also features an interview with sustainability professionals to further illustrate the challenges and opportunities that sector presents. There are currently career sector outlooks in the following areas: Architecture and Green Buildings; Business and Purchasing; Climate Adaptation and Mitigation; Consumption and Waste; Sustainable Energy; Education and Awareness; Environmental and Community Justice; Food and Agriculture; Governance and Policy; Habitat and Wildlife; Outdoor Recreation; Transportation; and Water Resources.
Career Planning Tool
A goal without a plan to achieve it is just a wish; make tangible steps toward the green career for you through our custom, interactive Career Planning Tool. Reflect, research and record ideas through a five-step process that will serve as a map in navigating your career plans now and into the future. The planning tool starts with a series of self-assessments and guides users through a series of five building blocks that can then be saved, downloaded and printed out to share with your college’s Career Services or with a personal mentor. This career planning process is helpful whether you have a clearly-defined career goal or not. Learn more at Career Planning Tool and EcoLeaders Certification.
EcoCareers Annual Conference
Join NWF for our annual EcoCareers Conference. This online conference prepares young leaders for sustainability careers by providing information on the latest EcoCareer trends from leading analysts and employers, clarifying career-enhancing credentials and academic offerings, and formulating a better understanding of the competencies employers seek in the green sector.
NWF Earth Tomorrow Program
Launched in 2001, Earth Tomorrow is the longest standing environmental justice education program of the National Wildlife Federation. As a multi-cultural environmental education and leadership development program for high school students, Earth Tomorrow motivates underserved youth--particularly youth of color-- to develop lifelong habits of environmental stewardship using an environmental justice lens. Before Earth Tomorrow, students were not commonly aware of issues such as food deserts, illegal waste dumping, climate change, lead exposure, and other environmental stressors that generally plague black and brown communities. The program cultivates this new generation of lifetime stewards through a year-long cycle of leadership training, issues exploration, civic engagement, career development, outdoor recreation, community service and project-based environmental education. Through these activities, youth are able to implement bold action to improve the health and welfare of their communities. To learn more about Earth Tomorrow: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Education-Programs/Earth-Tomorrow